This is over 10 years old but still worth the mention. Back in 2000, in a book titled The Devil in the Machine: Is Your Computer Possessed by a Demon?, Reverend Jim Peasboro writes that “any PC built after 1985 has the storage capacity to house an evil spirit.”
At first glance, it looks like Peasboro was explaining how a computer can facilitate evil acts through a metaphor. Let’s face it, computers (and the Internet) do facilitate badness like the distribution of child porn (and the “normal” sort of porn that’s still offensive to religious sensibilities) and identify theft. And perhaps by “evil spirit” he really means “virus”, “trojan", or “malware”, right?
The other passages from the book (“one in 10 computers in America now houses some type of evil spirit” and “Technicians can replace the hard drive and reinstall the software, getting rid of the wicked spirit permanently”) left me confused however. If Mr. Peasboro believes that demons can actually possess a computer, why would mere computer technicians be capable for “exorcising” the evil spirits from the hardware? Perhaps it’s Peasboro’s metaphor fleshed out—basically a computer reformat explained in supernatural terms. No virus or malware can survive that!
But I’ve saved the best for last. While using an “infected” computer, Peasboro writes that an AI suddenly appeared:
“The program began talking directly to me, openly mocked me. It typed out, 'Preacher, you are a weakling and your God is a damn liar.' Then the device went haywire and started printing out what looked like gobbledygook...I later had an expert in dead languages examine the text. It turned out to be a stream of obscenities written in a 2,800-year-old Mesopotamian dialect!”
I’m left wondering if the Reverend actually believes that a demon spoke to him in tongues through a computer, or if he was using supernatural metaphors to explain the dangers of unsafe computing to his readers. The average computer user is notoriously dense (not their fault), so it would make sense present computers as a special device, with improper use leading to supernatural consequences, right?